Advanced Scan Tunnels Boost the Performance of Package Handling Operations

Due to a lasting uptick in online shopping and home delivery, packaging facilities, warehouses, e-commerce businesses and distribution and fulfillment centers continue to feel pressure to boost efficiency and sort more packages each day while reducing costs and maintaining high levels of accuracy. Advances in scan tunnel technologies, such as the ability to quickly read all sides of a package with precision, even in situations where the barcode or label is damaged or oddly located, can help businesses in this fast-paced, highly competitive industry streamline their package handling operations and cut costs associated with manual re-work.

Companies that handle high volumes of packages are challenged with packages from multiple outlets that are often received in a diverse array of sizes and shapes with variable label styles, different orientations and inconsistent label placement. Despite these variants, every label of every package must be located and scanned to ensure identification and correct and prompt delivery. Failure to do so results in the need to manually handle and scan each missed label, which is incredibly time consuming, costly and at direct odds with the need to properly scan labels at high rates.

The Latest Scan Tunnel Technology

While earlier scan tunnels were designed to increase the speed and efficiency of operations, they were not capable of reading multiple package angles so they often missed oddly placed labels. These early scan tunnels also did not address the issue of damaged labels or difficult-to-read barcodes. However, there is an advanced scan tunnel that can overcome these common obstacles. The Cognex 6-Sided Bar Code Reading Tunnel features image-based barcode readers that use advanced algorithms and decoding technology to achieve up to 99.9% read rates, helping to boost overall throughput and reduce the amount of manual re-work.

These advanced scanners pull many scanning operations together in one system and offer the ability to efficiently and accurately read all six sides of a carton or box simultaneously, even when the label is damaged or ill-placed. The image-based barcode readers and angled reader wedges provide optimal barcode reading results. Multi-reader sync technology consolidates the output to the control system while real-time performance feedback and trending information provide operational insights, encouraging corrective action. Further, barcode assignment technology ensures the right code is assigned to the right package by preventing multi-reads of codes.

The employed software uses algorithms that can scan barcodes accurately, even if they are torn, wrinkled or obscured by plastic wrappers, which is an essential feature as many package labels are damaged as they move along the conveyor.

How Advanced Scan Tunnels Overcome Challenges

For any package handling operation to be successful and remain competitive, bar code reading equipment must be able to quickly and accurately identify each package, despite label placement or condition, and with as little manual handling as is possible. Today’s advanced scan tunnels, such as the Cognex 6-Sided Bar Code Reading Tunnel, enable package handlers to move more boxes through the facility each day and to do so with accuracy, high speeds and lower costs by:

  • Efficiently reading all six sides of a carton or box at once so that no packages or labels are missed, even when the label is placed in an inconsistent position or damaged, when the package has been placed incorrectly on the conveyor belt or when not much space has been left between packages on the belt.
  • Using advanced software algorithms to accurately scan barcodes, even when they are torn, wrinkled or obscured by plastic wrappers.
  • Improving traceability from the time between when a package enters a facility and when it leaves the facility.
  • Preventing multi reads of codes via barcode assignment technology, which ensures that the correct code is assigned to the correct package.
  • Providing real-time operational feedback so that any corrective actions may be taken immediately.

All of these features and capabilities allow package handlers to improve their performance, boost throughput, prevent costly errors and rework, boost accuracy and slash costs by reducing the amount of necessary manual intervention.

While any high-volume operation will benefit from six-sided scan tunnels, those with package variations and odd shaped packages, such as flats, bags, padded mailers, a variety of carton sizes and shrink-wrapped packages, will see the greatest enhancements to their operations as these tend to be the most challenging applications due to the inconsistencies of package size and shape, labels that may be placed on different areas of the package and the occurrence of damaged labels.

To learn more about how Cognex’s 6-Sided Bar Code Reading Tunnels can help boost the throughput and accuracy of your package handling operation while reducing costs related to manual labor and rework, please contact JHFOSTER‘s divisions, Sensors Incorporated or Sensors Integration.